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Volkswagen Sharan

Although the VW Sharan and Ford Galaxy are basically the same vehicle, UK buyers have always preferred the blue oval machine. However, things could be about to change as VW has facelifted its MPV in a bid to give it the edge.

The exterior changes Volkswagen has made to the Sharan may be subtle, but they do a pretty good job of freshening up the rather dated design. Meanwhile, the extra equipment helps boost value and makes the German car an even stronger contender in the seven-seater MPV market.

Although the VW Sharan and Ford Galaxy are basically the same vehicle, UK buyers have always preferred the blue oval machine. However, things could be about to change as VW has facelifted its MPV in a bid to give it the edge.

While the exterior alterations to the German people carrier are subtle, they certainly freshen up the ageing design. Up front, new headlamps sit either side of two sharper creases in the bonnet, while the side indicators are incorporated into the door mirrors to fall in line with other recent models from VW.

Other changes include the addition of chrome trim on the grille plus a new bumper and spoiler unit, designed to improve crash protection. The Sharan also comes with body-protecting corner bumper strips, while the rear gets distinctive chrome-ringed light clusters.

Inside, the VW has always had one of the best interiors in the sector. With tight panel gaps, a logically laid out dash, high-quality plastics and finely damped controls, it's no bad thing that VW has opted to leave the cabin alone. The only change is new seat trim.

There have been no modifications under the metal, either - and that's also for the best as the Sharan belies its bulk with car-like road manners. Thanks to an excellent driving position and low centre of gravity, it is certainly a good bet for someone who would otherwise be put off-buying a seven-seater. The Carat TDI we drove was powered by VW's popular 130bhp 1.9-litre turbodiesel. While it's no longer the most refined unit around, it's really punchy and very economical. Mated to the slick six-speed gearbox, it allows the Sharan to be hustled along at a decent pace.

Once you get to your destination, though, large MPVs are notoriously hard to park due to their sheer bulk, especially for those who aren't used to such a large vehicle. Thankfully, VW has fitted parking sensors across the Sharan range, so novices shouldn't have to make use of the new bumper strips when manoeuvring into tight gaps.

And with curtain airbags now coming as standard, the revised Sharan is better value than ever considering it costs only £7 more than the outgoing model.

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